Wine trends are constantly changing, and winemakers are eternally redefining how wine is made. From organic and biodynamic wines to sustainable and values-based winemaking, here’s how winemakers are approaching winemaking in 2023.
With the rise of conscious consumers, there is an increased focus on sustainability and ethics in winemaking, such as values-based winemaking, the term used to describe the practice of producing wine in an ethical and sustainable way. Values-based winemaking focuses on minimizing environmental impact and supporting local communities using natural methods for growing grapes, protecting biodiversity and reducing water usage. In addition, it emphasizes transparency and traceability in its production processes. By following ethical standards, winemakers can ensure that their wines are made with respect for the land the people involved in the process.
Low Intervention Winemaking
Low intervention winemaking relies less on added sulfites and other compounds to preserve it, often using yeasts and bacteria found in nature for fermentation and aging rather than using added sugars or acids. The process emphasizes the natural characteristics of wine, allowing winemakers to focus more on the grapes and fermentation process, and thus producing wines with deeper flavors and brighter acidity, as well as greater authenticity. This approach also enables winemakers to focus on crafting unique wines based on the season and climate rather than mass-production techniques.
To select wines with low intervention, choose wines that are produced organically, biodynamically or sustainably. Look for wines with no added sulfites or additives such as glycyrrhizin or potassium metabisulfite. Avoid alcohol levels higher than 10% ABV, and consider purchasing your wine from small producers.
Organic wines are produced without the use of synthetic agricultural chemicals, and can include the use of grape musts, botanicals, sparkling wine yeasts, oak barrels and more in winemaking practices to yield better-tasting wines with distinctive characteristics such as fruity flavor, lighter body and vibrant color. These wines have the potential to be healthier than conventional wines because of their use of organic farming practices and ingredients.
Both organic and biodynamic wines are produced without using synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, and appeal to those consumers who seek out naturally-produced wines. One thing to watch: organic wines can be more expensive than conventional wines.
Farm to Table Wine
The winemaking approach of farm to table wine involves the process of winemaking from the grapes grown on the farm to the consumer’s table, with value places on local, sustainable agriculture and agricultural practices. Benefits include more authentic taste with fresh fruit flavors, higher-quality wines for a better drinking experience, and less environmental impact. Because the grapes are grown organically, they use minimal synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Farm to table wineries also value farming practices that support soil health, water resources and the ecosystem to minimize their carbon footprint. Other practices include purchasing ingredients from sustainable sources to support local farming communities, minimizing waste and implementing green winemaking practices.
By employing environmentally-friendly ways to grow grapes, make wine and manage a wine-making business, sustainable winemaking minimizes the impact on the environment, human health and society. Some of the sustainable practices of environmentally-conscious farming can include the use of organic or ecologically-minded fertilizers and pesticides; sustainable agricultural methods like diversification of land uses, crop rotation or irrigation scheduling; and other environmental measures such as the reuse of bottles or cans, or composting waste.
On top of being environmentally-conscious and healthful, sustainable wines can provide a positive social impact by funding organizations that focus on issues like hunger relief, water conservation and climate change. As a consumer, ask for Certified Organic wines, or wines made from organic agricultural products. Look for the vineyard’s certification level when selecting your wine. If it is not certified organic, it may have been created using conventional farming techniques.
More and more, wine producers are embracing renewable energy sources in their winemaking processes, including solar energy, wind power, geothermal power and biomass.
What the Future Holds
In recent years, organic production techniques have been gaining popularity among winemakers. And as they continue to innovate, sustainable and ethical winemaking practices will become increasingly important. Their methods aim to produce wine that is free from synthetic chemicals and reduce the use of agricultural resources as much as possible.
Consumers also are looking for more natural wine produced in an eco-friendly way using fewer chemical processes. As winemakers learn more and are able to produce premium-quality wines while keeping the environment safe, the demand for wine will remain high.
Virginia Wine Trends
- Natural wines
- Unfiltered wines
- Heritage grapes
- Sustainable practices
- More racially and ethnically diverse winemakers
- Blockchain technology to track production and distribution
- Consumer education
- Packaging sustainability
- Wider variety of flavors and styles
- Expansion into hard cider and mead